It’s confession time again. And if you are keeping track, this is my fourth confession to date. I needed an easy read this week, the week of Christmas and all; and I didn’t want to skate by on another book of poem’s or kiddie lit. So I did the next easiest thing: I picked up Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer compiled by Robert Swartwood.

Hint fiction? What the heck is that? Yeah, I scratched my head too. But when I saw that it was super short stories, micro even, I was intrigued and confident that this would be perfect for a holiday filled week. I was right on one account, it was easy to get through; I’m pretty certain, however, hint fiction is not my new favorite go-to genre.

According to Swartwood’s Shorter is Better column at The Daily Beast:

“Hint fiction is a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story.”

In the book’s introduction, by far the most verbose section of the book, he goes on to say that hint fiction should “tell a story; it should be entertaining; it should be thought-provoking; and, if done well enough, it should invoke and emotional response.”

If a writer can do that in 25,00 words, let alone a mere 25!, I would say that is quite an achievement. And, some of the stories captured here do just that for me. Yet even though they did, I am still feeling conflicted about this book. I don’t think it’s one to sit down and read the whole way through, the way you would a book of fiction. I am certain some of these hints require as much time for processing and reflection as they did in their final construction. Knowing how long I sometimes spend on these posts, I can’t imagine the time and patience it would take these writers, some well known and others I couldn’t place, to string together a handful of words in just the right way to do all the things that Swartwood says they should.

Despite this conflict, some of the stories did elicit various emotions from me… humor, disgust, contentment and surprise… to name a few. And some even had me wishing there was more. So many more, though, were just okay. At the end of the day, and nearing the very end of this project, I am glad I exposed myself to this new art form–its longevity within the literary landscape remains to be seen.

Rating: 2 stars
Pages: 188
Genre: Fiction